The Region of Attica revokes the license of Attica Zoological Park’s dolphinarium

image courtesy George Vernardos

On Friday 13 March, the Competent Authority of the Region of Attica (Prefecture of Attica) revoked the operating licence of the marine mammal facility for dolphins at Attica Zoological Park. This decision by the Region was the result of a longtime effort by organizations, scientists, activists and numerous citizens which took a new turn from May 2019. The effort has been led by Dolphinaria-free Europe (DFE) and the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute.

For years, DFE has been calling for an end to the illegal dolphin shows in Greece. Two years ago (3/11/2017) the Ministry of Environment had already confirmed the violation of Law 4039/12 (which prohibits all kinds of animal performances for all animals, including shows in zoological parks).

In July 2019, after pressure from DFE, the Veterinary Authority of the Region of Attica conducted an inspection during which it was confirmed that the “educational programs”, the term used by Attica Zoo, were in fact ‘animal performances’ and the Zoo was advised to terminate them, but to no effect.

In February 2020, after many meetings of DFE representatives (as well as others from Sea Shepherd, Greece and My Dolphin Club) with the Directorate of Rural Economy and Veterinary Policy of the Region of Attica, the party ‘Ecological Coalition’ in the Region’s Council also raised the issue during one of the meetings of the Council and called for the implementation of the law. Following this, DFE and Pelagos pushed the Regional Governor again, calling for an immediate end to the illegal shows. On 13th March 2020, the Region of Attica issued its decision to suspend the operations of the marine mammal section of Attica Zoological Park and revoke the license for the dolphinarium. The zoo’s licence should have already been revoked in November 2017, when the violation of Law 4039/12 was confirmed by the inspection body of the Ministry of Environment, as compliance to the law is a condition for the operation of the zoo.

It should be noted that in the courts a trial date was requested to discuss the dolphin shows, however, measures against the spread of coronavirus in Greece currently includes a suspension of the operations of courts.

The efforts to terminate the shows were initiated in late spring 2010, right after the illegal importation of dolphins from Lithuania to Greece and the start of the marine mammal shows for the purpose of entertaining visitors at Attica Zoo. The revocation of the licence of the dolphinarium and the suspension of the shows at Attica Zoological Park constitutes a vindication for all those who have for years demanded an end to the shows and an end to cetacean captivity. We hope that this time the law will be enforced and that the illegal shows will cease once and for all.

Moreover, we are proceeding with DFE’s longstanding call for a legislative measure to prohibit cetacean captivity in Greece, a proposal which has been submitted to all government administrations since 2010. We will continue to work towards the enforcement of the law banning animal shows and the end of cetacean captivity.